By Gordon-Murnane, Laura
Searcher , Vol. 7, No. 6
Searching for government information? More and more, the federal government has moved aggressively to take advantage of the power of the Internet to publish and disseminate reports, bills, public laws, documents, hearings, notices, and rules and regulations via the World Wide Web. The Clinton administration recognized, early on, the vital importance an electronic government must play in the lives of the American public, and, to their credit, they have laid the foundation for the creation of such a government.
To achieve this goal, the administration pushed for the creation of electronic government through a series of initiatives, enacted legislation, and executive orders. In 1993, the National Information Infrastructure Task Force began the process of identifying national information goals and laying the groundwork for a national information policy. Later, Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review led the drive for a more customer-driven government by pushing federal agencies to aggressively employ information technology that could improve the quality of government service and the distribution of government information products to the American public. Not to be left out of the process of building a national information structure, Congress enacted three key pieces of legislation that helped create a more electronic government. The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, and the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 all work together to make the government more accessible - electronically - to the public. In July of 1996, President Clinton issued an executive order mandating that executive agencies implement electronic data exchange by January 1, 1997. 
With the underlying mandates in place, the federal government (executive agencies, independent agencies, Congress, and the federal bench) has created more than 4,500 Web sites, with more on the way. Anyone with access to the Internet can obtain federal government information like never before. Need to find out about current legislation making its way through Congress? Need information on new and existing regulations and how they impact your industry, company, or client? Or want to learn about the finer details of the president's budget that go unreported in the press? You can find all this information and much, much more.
However, with the explosion of government Web sites (and more expected), the task of searching for specific government information can daunt anyone. To deal with the wealth of government information, a system had to be developed to make it easy to find the information published by the federal government. Enter the Government Printing Office and GPO Access.
The Government Printing Office (GPO), mandated by federal law, has created an award-winning, one-stop shopping kiosk rich in government information that should satisfy any information junkie looking for information from all three branches of the federal government. 
With the passage of the Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993, Congress mandated the development of the electronic version of GPO.  The law requires the Government Printing Office to:
* Maintain an electronic directory of federal electronic information
* Provide a system of online access to the Congressional Record, the Federal Register, and, as determined by the Superintendent of Documents, other appropriate publications distributed by the Superintendent of Documents
* Operate an electronic storage facility for federal electronic information accessible online
GPO Access [http://www.access/gpo.gov], the electronic portal for government information, has done just that and much more. The site now reaches more than 70 searchable databases that include congressional bills, the Federal Register, Supreme Court Decisions, and the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. …